Ship carrying 250 sinks in rough seas off West Sulawesi
From Andi Hajramurni and Nurni Sulaiman
A ship carrying 250 passengers and 17 crew members sank in rough seas in waters off Baturoro in Majene regency, West Sulawesi, on Sunday. Rustam Pakaya, head of the Health Ministry’s crisis center, said six people had been confirmed dead in the accident, Reuters reported.
A joint search-and-rescue team pulled 150 passengers from the water, and 18 others were rescued by fishermen. The ship had departed from Pare-pare in South Sulawesi at 5:45 p.m. local time (4:45 p.m. Jakarta time) on Saturday on a voyage through the Makassar Strait to Samarinda, capital of East Kalimantan.
The ship sank at about 4 a.m. after being hit by a cyclone in rough seas.
“There’s currently a tropical cyclone that is causing tides of 5 to 6 meters,” Jusman Syafi’i Djamal told Reuters.
Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said the missing persons had not been acounted for.
"We still don't know whether they had lifejackets on when the ship was hit, and it happened at dawn so most people were probably asleep," he said.
The 747-ton ship, skippered by captain Sabir, sent its last transmission at 2 a.m. to the Pare-pare port, the port administrator Nurwahidah said.